Sunday, August 30, 2015

Violins- New, Used, Vintage, Old, or Antique. What's Best?

By Andy Fein, violin maker, Fein Violins

"I have an old violin that's been in my family for generations......" We get a phone call that starts out like that almost every day at the shop. There's a common belief that because a violin is old, it must be valuable. Not necessarily so. In fact, the vast majority of old violins that people find tucked away in attics and closets are not worth much. Or anything. Even if the label says "Stradivarius".
From a Sears catalog circa 1910

Sunday, August 9, 2015

An American in Paris

By andy Fein and Martha McDermott

Not many pieces of classical music can claim to have inspired a series of ballets, movies, and musicals, but Gershwin's 'An American in Paris' has done all of that!

An American in Paris played by LA Phil conducted by Gustavo Dudamel

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Your (Violin) Neck Used To Be Shorter

By Andy Fein and Martha McDermott

Have you ever experienced this phenomena?- You or an orchestra friend gets some new string that's just hit the market, or a shoulder rest, or some other doodad AND it makes that violin sound GREAT! Next thing you know, every violinist in the orchestra has one! In the early nineteenth century there were huge changes going on in the violin world. First Paganini made some changes and it made his violin sound GREAT! Then next thing you knew, EVERYONE needed those changes.

It's hard to imagine an instrument as staid as the violin going through any evolutionary changes. Most of our modern violins are so standardized that if the string length is off by just a couple of millimeters, an experienced player will notice it. But early violins were not made to such standardized measurements. And one huge change that happened in the early 1800s is that the length of neck (and thus the string length) became longer! Almost no violins made before about 1830 retain their original necks. That includes Stradivaris, Guarneris, and Amatis.

Violino Piccolo in its Original Set Up by Girolamo Amati, Cremona, 1613 at the National Music Museum in Vermillion, South Dakota

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Stradivarius At His Peak, 1715

By Andy Fein and Martha McDermott

This year, 2015, marks three hundred years since Antonius Stradivarius hit his peak in craftsmanship and tone quality. That's not just my humble opinion. The period around the year 1715 is called Stradivarius' "Golden Period".
1715 'Hochstein' Violin
 Antonius Stradivarius had been working on violins for about fifty years, he was in his seventies and still very healthy, and he had hit upon a model for his violins that combined the best of tone, playability, and projection.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

These Are A Few Of Our Favorite Strings- Part III, Cello

By Andy Fein and Martha McDermott

Taste in cello tone varies quite a bit, from bright to very mellow. But I've never had someone ask for cello strings that will make their cello tinny, very bright, nasally, or unfocused. So, by process of elimination, I'll assume that most players like their cellos to have a focused, somewhat mellow sound with big and responsive C and G strings.

Gautier Capu├žon playing with Larsen Strings

Going for that goal, and with plenty of string trials and feedback from clients, teachers, professionals and the staff at Fein Violins, we've narrowed  it down to three string sets. All made by Larsen Strings.